The Koger Center is hosting local bands Grand Republic and E.Z. Shakes for a free outdoor event on its back loading dock before and after the Hootie and the Blowfish concerts on Thursday and Friday.
The event begins at 6 p.m. and will resume with different set lists around 10 p.m. Grand Republic is playing Thursday and E.Z. Shakes is playing Friday.
Steve Borders, technical director at the Koger Center, has envisioned this use of the loading dock for a while.
Rock the Dock’s tailgate-style atmosphere is open to anyone in the area, whether they’re going to the concert or not. Borders encourages students who don’t have tickets to check out some local bands while enjoying food and drinks.
“It’s a great place to come and hang out and see great bands that are here in town,” Borders said. “Local bands that all have roots with Hootie and the Blowfish.”
While Grand Republic and E.Z. Shakes are relatively new bands, the band members have been a part of Columbia’s music scene since Hootie and the Blowfish’s college days.
Troy Tague from Grand Republic and John Furr, who plays guitar for both Grand Republic and E.Z. Shakes, got to know Hootie and the Blowfish band members from running in the same music circle. Furr said they would share vans when one broke down and oftentimes play alongside each other. At the time, Furr was in the band Blightobody that won "Best College Band in America" in 1994.
Furr and Tague reminisced about those days three decades ago when Jake’s bar was called Rockafellas and live music was a little more popular than it is today, according to Tague.
“At times, [Hootie and the Blowfish] were the same as all of us. We played with them at regular clubs, and then they blew up,” Tague said.
Tague said he remembers a moment when he realized Hootie and the Blowfish made it big. He said the band was in Columbia for St. Patrick’s Day, and he stepped out of their little truck and heard a loud roar, the kind that’s heard at football games, from the crowd of people there.
“It was just funny because I just knew them as regular guys that played at bars,” Tague said.
Columbia’s music scene might not look the same as it did in the '90s – the bars have changed names and some venues have closed down – but Furr said his sound has stayed consistent with the era.
“I would say that people compare our music to having an '80s and '90s kind of throwback sound and that’s true, but it’s not throwback,” Furr said.
Grand Republic is a guitar rock band that’s original music can be described as indie or alternative. E.Z. Shakes, named for and led by Zach Seibert, is a non-traditional singer-songwriter-style band with country roots.
“I think we’re just an example of some kind of interesting things that are happening in general in the Columbia music scene,” Furr said.
Simms Oliphant, youth development and community relations coordinator at the Koger Center, said this outdoor event is a first for the facility.
“I feel like we don’t really have the reputation of the rock concert,” Oliphant said. "So, I thought it would be really cool to become involved with Hootie and the Blowfish in some way.”
Oliphant said this event is the Koger Center’s way of welcoming Hootie and the Blowfish home alongside local bands who have a connection to them.